Space Force launch program calculates a expected increase in missions in years to come

The Space Force has estimated that its next major phase of the National Security Space Launch contracts will increase by 50%. Over the years from 2022 to 2027, ULA and SpaceX are slated to launch 30 missions but this number is subject to change depending on service requirements. The next phase in the program is set to start after 2024 and the Space Force is looking to plan and capture a significant increase.

The program’s next stage, NSSL Phase 3 is expected to be a two-lane approach to launch missions. Lane 1 is open to standard commercial type missions and will be open to any number of launch providers. This lane 1 will be open for companies to compete on a yearly basis and won’t have to meet the Space Force’s certification requirements.

Lane 2 will be for sensitive missions that will require contractors to meet more structured requirements. This will be for more high security details that will need the contractor to hit unique constraints. Only two contractors will be selected for this role. This lane 2 will be open for selection in 2025.

This is coming from lawmakers push for the Space Force to make more competition in the launch space in order to grow the space sector further. The Fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act includes sections that calls for the Space Force to take advantage of this growth.

The increase in competition and mission launches highlights the need for more intensive security against all threats. The main threat would be state or private actors taking advantage of openings in the cyber space to cripple or delay these launches and put a pause on the Space Force’s NSSL plan. Even in a time of peace, these systems are open to attack and the amount of money in this sector could be for null if a weak link is exploited.